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In Hospital Interview, Florida Legislator With COVID Sees Need For ‘Accurate, Timely’ Testing

Florida State Rep. Randy Fine recorded a Facebook video from his hospital bed on Monday.
Florida State Rep. Randy Fine recorded a Facebook video from his hospital bed on Monday.

State Representative Randy Fine has been hospitalized with COVID-19.

The Republican lawmaker, who represents southern Brevard County, tested positive for the coronavirus about two weeks ago. His wife and two sons also tested positive, but he says they have already recovered.

Fine spoke with me by telephone on Monday.

WMFE: Representative, thank you so much for talking with me. Now you’re actually in the hospital now?

FINE: I’m at Holmes Regional in Melbourne.

WMFE: Tell me how you’re feeling. How are you doing today?

FINE: Well, I’m not feeling great, I’m feeling better than I did yesterday, but I certainly don’t feel like myself. I have a cough and feel tired and, you know, still fighting this thing off.

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WMFE: Now you’ve chronicled your family’s experience with COVID-19 over the past couple of weeks. And you’ve had good days and you’ve had bad days. What was it about Sunday that you ended up in the hospital?

FINE: Well, I didn’t know I was going to end up in the hospital. So in kind of the third wave of this — I’ve had different phases phases — the third phase about three or four days ago I started getting these uncontrollable coughs, almost like full body spasms. If I even got out of bed, I would cough uncontrollably. And after two or three days of this, we said, You know what, let’s go to the hospital and get an X-ray and see if I have pneumonia. Maybe they would me something for pneumonia, just a thought. So we drove to the hospital yesterday to get an X-ray and when they got the results of the X-ray. They said your lungs are in pretty serious shape. You need to be admitted.

WMFE: So you’ve been sharing this experience with the public through Facebook and through interviews with the media. What kind of response have you been getting?

FINE: Generally overwhelming. I’ve never had people pray for me so much, the way they have, particularly in the last couple of days, and it means, it means the world. I mean certainly you get a lot of, you know, armchair quarterbacking and people who want to inject political debate into it, but the overwhelming majority of people have been really concerned for not only me but for my family.

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WMFE: If you were to give the public a message, from your experience, about COVID-19, what would you want that message to be?

FINE: Take this seriously. This is not the flu. This is not a cold. It is a serious disease that you can get. Even if you’re doing the right things, we, we are not at protests. We are not at big private gatherings. I mean, we caught this because of some small private gathering that we were at. … My wife caught it at a group of four people. And I think the second thing of that is, look, I’m 46 years old and I’m healthy, and I’m now in the hospital after having this thing for two weeks. It’s a serious disease and people need to take seriously.

WMFE: Now, you’re a husband. You’re a dad. You’re also a politician and a lawmaker. In that role, what do you see yourself taking out of this experience?

FINE: Um, I think the number one thing I think at this point is making sure that in our testing infrastructure, we get accurate results and we get quick results. Two things I’ve observed from this is, one, some of the quick tests that we’re relying on create false negatives. So people think that they’re negative, but they’re not. That’s not okay. The second issue is, if you get the tests that are 100% accurate but it takes you 10 days to get the results back, what good does that do? So we need people to be able to get accurate, timely results.

WMFE: Representative, thank you so much for talking with me, and I hope you feel better soon.

FINE: Thank you, I appreciate it.

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Joe Byrnes - WMFE